There Will Be A Test
So, I finished reading a provocative book by Rob Bell & Don Golden entitled Jesus Wants to Save Christians. Some of it, I loved. Some I wasn’t sure where he was headed. But an enjoyable, thought provoking read, perfect for a couple of hours while listening to the pouring rain last night.
Anyway, the authors put forth a fantastic little scenario, and I thought we’d answer it here today in The Diner. It’s from the tail end of chapter five. So, put your thinking cap on, patrons. And, try to stay with it for about three minutes…it’s a little long. Here we go:
“Imagine the average youth group in the average church on the average Sunday. Imagine visiting this youth group and having the pastor say to you, ‘I just can’t get my kids interested in Jesus. Do you have any suggestions.’
How do you respond?
To begin with, the church has a youth group. This is a brand-new idea in church history. A luxury. Everybody in the church doesn’t meet all together? All the babies and older folks and men and women and widows and students aren’t in the same room, but they’ve gone to separate rooms?
And there are resources for this? People and organizational structures and a budget? Let’s imagine that in this case, the pastor, this youth pastor, is paid a salary for his or her work. A church with enough resources to pay someone to oversee students? Once again, this is a brand-new, almost unheard of in most churches in the world, and in church history. A brand-new invention.
This salary can be paid and this building can be built because the people in the congregation have surplus. They have fed themselves and their children and bought clothes and houses, and now, after these expenses, there is still money available. Adn this money is given in an act of generosity to the church which dispenses it to various places, among them the bank account of the pastor.
In many, if not most, of the churches in the world, immediate needs simply don’t allow for such luxuries–too many people are hungry, too many don’t have a roof, too many are sick–so any surplus is spent immediately on the basic needs staring them in the face.
People dying here.
But this particular church is blessed, and we should be clear about this–it is blessing. It is good. It is fortunate that this particular church doesn’t have those issues. this church has enough resources to hir a pastor who had the resources to get training to gather these students in the student room to teach them the way of Jesus. Many Christians around the world wold simply stand in awe of that kind of blessing.
And the students in the church, these are good kids. They are from families who just want to see their kids become good Christians.
Imagine just how much is available to them. They have more at their fingertips than any generation in the history of the world–more information, more entertainment, more ideas, more ways to kill time, more options.
Many of them own more than one pair of shoes.
There are even some among them who have eaten at least one meal every day of their lives.
So we are talking about a miniscule minority of kids in the world.
At the exit of the highway near their church is a Best Buy and a Chili’s and a Circuit City and a McDonald’s and a Wal-Mart and a Bed, Bath & Beyond, much like other towns in their state and their country. The music they listen to is distributed by one of the five major corporations, which also own the movie studios that create the movies they watch, which are also connected to the corporations that create the food they eat and the commercials they watch which also have significant ties to the clothes they wear and the cell phones they own, and the ring tone on their cell phones, the one by the artist who is signed to the record label that is owned by the same company that owns the cell phone company adn the advertising agency that announced the artist’s new album, which is owned by the same company that owns the beverage company in whose advertisement the artist appeared, drinking that particular beverage, singing the song that is now a ring tone on the student’s phones that they purchased at the mall across the street from the Olive Garden next door to the Home Depot on the other side of the Starbucks.
And each week they gather to hear a talk from the pastor.
Their pastor tells them about the Jesus revolution.
About Jesus resisting the system.
About the blood of the cross.
About many of the first Christians getting arrested.
About Jesus having dinner with prostitutes and tax collectors.
About people sharing their possessions.
About Jesus telling a man to sell everything.
About the uniqueness of their story in the larger story of redemption.
How do children of the empire understand the Savior who was killed by an empire?
How does a twelve year-old who has never had hunger pangs that lasted more than an hour understand the story about a twelve year-old providing fish and bread for thousands of chronically hungry people?
How do kids who are surrounded by more abundance than in any other generation in the history of humanity, take seriously a Messiah who said, ‘I have been anointed to preach good news to the poor?
How do they fathom that half the world is too poor to feed its kids when their church just spent two years raising money to build an addition to their building?
They gather, they sing, they hear a talk from the pastor, and then they get back in the car with their parent and they go home: the garage door opens up, the car goes in, and the garage door goes down.
This is the revolution?
This is what Jesus had in mind?
And so the youth pastor turns to you and says, again, ‘I just can’t get my students engaged with Jesus. Do you have any suggestions?’
What do you say?
How do you respond?”
Have at it, kids.
Like I said…
…a very provocative read.